Meet Grow Wellington's new head

GERARD QUINN: Looking for a place in Wellington - with room for a dog.
GERARD QUINN: Looking for a place in Wellington - with room for a dog.

It has been more than 30 years since Gerard Quinn called the capital home, but in November he will take up the reins of economic development agency Grow Wellington as its new chief executive.

Quinn will be coming from Christchurch, where he worked as acting CEO at the Canterbury Development Corporation during both the February 2011 earthquake and the first serious shake in September 2010.

As general manager of industry and innovation at the CDC, he was responsible for administering an investment fund that backed technology startups. Previously, he set up a business advisory service for New Zealand Trade & Enterprise.

Quinn, who has an MBA from the University of Canterbury, said Wellington's regional strategy gave the area a strong chance to harness the region's collective strength.

His job leading the agency will involve encouraging it to meet its goal of creating a “strong and vibrant Wellington regional economy” that is internationally competitive.

"Wellington is a dynamic fun city, but the whole region has got really diverse attractions from Waikanae beaches to the Wairarapa; I like this regional aspect," Quinn said. “We've got to get scale on the world stage: we shouldn't be competing with Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Taranaki or Invercargill, but the rest of the world.

Quinn, a former air traffic controller and one time manpower company owner, described the field of economic development as "quite a holistic art and science combined".

Managing relationships with the council and businesses, the government, iwi, the education and science communities would also be an important part of his new job.

Grow Wellington was set up in 2007 and received $4.25m in ratepayer funding for the year till June 2012. Its six key areas of focus are infrastructure, education and workforce development, commercialising innovation, helping businesses and councils to work together effectively, investment and attracting companies to the capital.

Chairman Paul Mersi said Quinn stood out for his energy, leadership and experience in economic development.

"This is balanced by a strong intellect and fresh perspective that will be of enormous benefit to the Wellington region."

Quinn starts his new job next month; he has not yet decided what area he will live in.

"I did go and have a wee look, there are lots of lovely areas in Wellington to explore . . . I need somewhere that's going to suit a dog."

The Dominion Post